Ditch the Burnout: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time
Picture this: It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, you’re 2 cups of coffee in for the day and trying to check things off your to-do list. It’s got to get done, but you just can’t seem to muster up the energy to focus on the task at hand after an already long day. Sound familiar? Of course it does! We’ve all experienced the slump when your brain just doesn’t seem to have enough to keep going. We’re quick to place the blame on not enough hours in the day, but what if that’s not the culprit?
In 2007, the Harvard Business Review published an article called Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. The concept is simple; time is a finite resource, but energy is renewable. The article argues that if you approach your never-ending to-do list with the mentality of filling every crevasse of time with as much work as possible, you risk not only burning yourself out but work output that lacks focus, efficiency and innovation. In the meetings industry, those traits are crucial to getting the job done; so what’s a meeting planner to do?
Let’s flip the script. Instead of looking at your day in intervals of time, look at your day in intervals of energy that make the most sense for your work style. If you’re a morning person, intentionally plan to tackle your most tedious projects first thing in the morning. Do you find that the afternoon is your sweet spot for creativity? Carve out time to work on that décor presentation when you know your brain is most susceptible to creative thinking. And for all those moments in between, try building in what’s called a Renewal Ritual to your daily routine.
“Intermittent breaks for renewal, we have found, result in higher and more sustainable performance. The length of renewal is less important than the quality. It is possible to get a great deal of recovery in a short time—as little as several minutes—if it involves a ritual that allows you to disengage from work and truly change channels.”
As event professionals, we challenge our brain to simultaneously use both the right and left sides at a fast pace, so building in Renewal Rituals lets you hit the pause button and let your brain take a much-needed break. A Renewal Ritual can really be anything that helps you to disconnect; taking a short walk, doing a puzzle, reading a news article, etc. But here are a few examples of rituals that not only help you disengage, but may also spark inspiration:
- Type in some fun key words to Pinterest and browse away! Maybe you’ll find a new recipe to try for dinner this week, or maybe you’ll find inspiration for that theme party you’ve been working on. Or for a similar experience, check out AlliedPRA’s Inspiration Board.
- Adult coloring books are all the rage; keep one at your desk and feed your creativity with a little doodle when your brain starts to wonder off.
- Make a habit of spending a few minutes daily writing a thank you email, or better yet, hand written note to a colleague. Expressing gratitude not only creates a positive work environment, but also helps strengthen relationships.
- Keep a motivational book at your desk and read a few pages or a chapter when you need a pick-me-up. I highly recommend The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin; Work on Purpose by Lara Galinsky; Daring Greatly by Brene Brown; or Uncommon Sense by Jill Harrington for your sales professionals.
- Take a lunch break with a colleague away from your desk and try NOT to talk about work! You never know what inspiration or idea-sharing may come from learning about someone on a personal level.
In a business that centers around our clients, we are not often the masters of our own time. Because of this, we may as well be the masters of our own energy. Hopefully by implementing a Renewal Ritual and understanding our own shortfalls, we can build upon that potential to become more effective, creative, and inspired planners.